Even before surviving the Scorpius bacterium, Greyson Storm was a lone wolf navigating minefields. As a kid, he learned to take a hit and find safety. As an adult, he joined the military and quickly learned how to protect and defend. When the world ended, he created a mercenary camp with military precision, no entanglements, and a promise to avenge a fallen friend. As part of that vow, he kidnapped Maureen Shadow, but now that he has let her go, her blue eyes and intriguing mind keep haunting him…
As possibly the only Biotechnology Engineer still living, Maureen Shadow might be humanity’s one hope to survive the aftermath of Scorpius, making her frighteningly valuable to both allies and enemies. Even after sexual tension explodes between her and Greyson, she’s not sure which camp he belongs to—friend or foe? Worse yet, survival may mean thwarting his prime mission, putting her in even more peril. When danger and seduction collide, there is no safety in this new world.
Other Books in the The Scorpius Syndrome Series
One month ago
ZAL Labs in the Arizona desert
He was the most striking man Maureen Shadow had ever seen in real life. Defiant black hair to his shoulders, tall and broad, gray and green and even blue in his eyes. Different colors, and all intense.
Danger shrouded him…along with intent.
And he stood between her and the softly closing door of her lab. She didn’t speak. Didn’t have to. He couldn’t be there for a good reason.
“Maureen Shadow?” he asked. Dark and deep…his voice was almost raspy.
Her chin lifted. “No.” The meager security for the small part of the facility still working had obviously been blown. Quietly and with absolutely no warning. Not a shot fired. Who was this guy?
He slowly, deliberately, reached into his back pocket and brought out a faded and very wrinkled piece of paper while holding her gaze. The paper crinkled and partly tore when he unfolded it. Without even looking at it, he lifted it up to show a picture of her next to her title from the website of ZAL Labs, where she still worked. “You.”
She blinked. Her nerves flashed warnings, but where could she go?
His gaze traveled over her, top to bottom and back up again.
She barely kept from shifting under his perusal. Her jeans had a hole in them, her black sweater had seen better days, and even her white lab coat was threadbare. Life had gone to hell after the Scorpius bacteria had attacked the world nearly five months ago. Though the lab wasn’t so bad. “Who are you?” she asked, trying to sound normal and not scared to death.
He finally looked away, his gaze taking in the square room with its solid table in the middle. Lab equipment, some that still worked, lined every counter, while papers covered the table. His scrutiny settled on the wall of refrigerators that held different plant specimens. “That’s a hell of a generator you’ve got there. The rest of the world has gone dark.”
She swallowed. Nearly ninety-nine percent of the US population was dead from the Scorpius bacterium. “We’re almost out of gas for the generators, and I need to finish my work before that happens.” She glanced at the microscopes lining the counter. “We only have about three months of water and food before our stores are depleted.” If he’d already checked out the place, he’d know that. “I can’t stop you from taking our resources.”
“I don’t want your food or water.”
Her lungs seized. “There’s nothing for you here, then.”
“You couldn’t be more wrong.” His gaze was back to her.
A shiver wandered down her back. She craned her neck to listen, but the corridor was silent. Twenty people still worked at ZAL, several brought in from other parts of the country after the world had died. “Who are you?” she whispered again.
“Greyson Storm.” He said the name almost absently, glancing at the fridge again. “Are you working on a cure for Scorpius?”
“No. I’m a biotechnical engineer,” she said.
“I read that in your bio,” he murmured. “Say more.”
Commanding, wasn’t he? Was help coming or not? Why the hell did he break into her lab? “I have degrees in horticulture, genetics, and plant molecular biology.”
He cocked his head to the side. “So you splice and dice plants. Create super crops.”
It had been necessary to feed billions…before they’d all died. “Among other things. As you can see, if you’re looking for a scientist to cure Scorpius, you’ve come to the wrong girl.” Time was running out, and she had a job to accomplish. “So go away.”
He smiled then. Most men, when they smiled, softened. Even a little. Not this man. A promise of danger with an edge lived in his grin. “No.”
She’d back up, but there was nowhere to go. “Destroying my lab won’t help anything.”
“Don’t want to destroy your lab. Why the hell are you still working on super crops? We no longer need to feed billions.”
She shook her head. “I’m not creating super crops. I’m trying to save the resources we have left.”
No expression showed on his face. He obviously didn’t care about crops. The way he stood. Just like her brother—another soldier. This guy had definitely been military. He focused entirely on her. “Are you or your lab in touch with the president?”
“Not anymore.” At his raised eyebrow, she continued. “President Atherton’s last check-in with us was over a month ago. Haven’t heard from him since, but we kept working per his directive.” Was the president even alive? Was there anything close to a working government? Cell phones were down and useless.
Greyson nodded. “That’s what I thought.”
She swallowed. “Why did you think that?”
“I’ve been watching you for three weeks.” He gestured around. “In your nice and safe lab in the middle of the Arizona desert. Just waiting for Atherton to send a missionary.”
Why would this guy want the president? At least in her desolate part of Arizona—the perfect place for the lab and what it contained. She finally took that step back, her heart pattering wildly. “Why have you been watching us?”
“You,” he corrected softly. Very softly. “Just you, Maureen.”
She stopped breathing. All right, then. The picture. He had her picture and had been carrying it for some time. Oh God. She’d have to fight him, and he was so damn big. “You survived Scorpius.”
“Yeah. You?” His eyes were grayer now in the florescent lights of the lab.
“Did you get enough vitamin B when it happened?” he asked.
“Yes,” she whispered. For some reason, the vitamin Bs softened the effects of the bacterial infection—a little. The bacteria attacked the brain, leaving survivors…different. Some turned stronger, some smarter, and some sociopathic. Which in itself didn’t always have to be bad. “Did you?” she asked.
Yet here he was stalking her. Some sociopaths turned into serial killers—either the wild, crazy kind or the brilliant, strategic kind like Ted Bundy. Greyson Storm had been stalking her, watching her, and had now made a move. “Do you want to put my head in your cooler?” she asked, searching for a weapon. Any weapon.
His eyebrow arched again. “No.”
He didn’t laugh. So, no humor. She shuffled her feet, trying to remember the self-defense moves her brother had taught her so long ago. Anger started to boil through her blood to mingle with the fear. Was this guy here to kill her or not? “Greyson, this is getting tedious. What do you want?”
He crossed his arms and leaned back against the door in a not-so-subtle reminder that she was trapped. “When was the last time you talked to your brother?”
Her stomach cramped. Oh God. She took a step toward Greyson. “Is it Raze? Did something happen to him?” Panic pricked along her arms.
“No. He’s fine. On his way here, actually. Scouts tell me he should arrive in a day or so.”
“Oh.” She started to relax. Wait a minute. A fellow soldier aligned with Raze wouldn’t have watched her—stalked her—for weeks before checking in. “I haven’t talked to Raze in seven months. Don’t even know if he survived the bacterium.”
Greyson’s eyes darkened to a greenish gray with barely a hint of blue. “You…are a terrible liar.” His upper lip twitched in what had to be amusement. “Just horrible.”
So she’d heard. She lifted her chin. “I’m not lying.”
“Yeah. That’s fine. We’re leaving now. Is there anything you need to bring with us?” he asked as if discussing breakfast recipes.
She had a ballpoint pen in her pocket, and she casually inserted her hand. Hadn’t she seen a movie once where the heroine stabbed the bad guy in the jugular with a pen? She shoved the cheap cap off. “Where do you want to go?” Was the guy nuts?
“Have you heard of the Mercenaries?” he asked.
Her fingers trembled as she tightened her hold. The Mercs were a band of vigilantes who had taken over the Santa Barbara area by force, death, and blood. “Yes.”
“I’m their leader.”
A metallic taste filled her mouth. Fear. Adrenaline and dread. If that were true, he was one of the most dangerous killers left on Earth. If not, he was a delusional psychopath. Either way, she couldn’t go anywhere with him. “You’re the leader of the Mercs?”
She shook her head. “Why would the leader of the Mercs, if that’s what you really are, want me?”
His gaze traveled her again, burning this time. “It’s not you I want.” His eyes flared. “Not for that reason, anyway. You’re much prettier than your picture.”
She swayed. “No.”
He lifted a hand. “I won’t hurt you, and I won’t let anybody else hurt you, either. You have my vow.”
The vow of a nutjob who led the Mercs. Yeah. That was just great. “I don’t understand.”
“I know. Here’s the deal. Your brother has been working for the government, what’s left of it, for a while. Taking out killers, basically. He’s in touch or has been in touch with President Atherton, who I can’t find right now.”
“Why do you want the president?” None of this made sense.
“He has something I want,” Greyson said. “Somebody I want to find.” His eyes cleared. “Vivienne Wellington. Any chance you know her?”
“No,” Maureen whispered. She’d never heard of the woman. “She’s your, ah, your…”
“No. She’s not mine. But she can get me something I want, and I have to find her. Your brother can locate the president and Vivienne.” Greyson motioned her toward him. “We have to go now.”
“No.” She held firm. If Raze didn’t want to be found, he wouldn’t be. Made sense Greyson had sought her out instead. “We haven’t heard from the president, so it’s possible Raze has no clue where he is.” In fact, she hadn’t heard from her brother in over a month, so he was on mission somewhere. But she had to believe he was safe.
“Then Raze will have to find them. He was the best hunter in the military, and he’ll do it.” Greyson took a step toward her. “With the right motivation.”
Fire lanced through her. “I won’t be used to blackmail my brother.” Plus, her work was too important. Life or death, really.
“Extort. You will be used to extort what I want. Not blackmail.” Greyson moved then, reaching her in several long strides. “I don’t want to hurt you, and I’d much prefer if you came along willingly.”
She tightened her hold on the pen. “And if I don’t?”
He lowered his head closer to hers. “Then you’ll come unwillingly.”
Her throat clogged. “Did you kill the guards? The other scientists?”
“No. I haven’t killed anybody.” He lifted back up. “Today, anyway.”
Taking a deep breath, she moved and struck with the pen.
He easily, almost casually, grabbed her wrist and stopped her movements cold. Keeping her gaze, he slowly took the pen away and tossed it over his shoulder. “A pen?”
“It’s all I had,” she whispered, feeling like a rabbit caught in a snare. His hold around her wrist was warm and firm—unbreakable.
“Huh.” He jerked her forward.
She stumbled but ended up against him. The guy was built like solid rock.
Heat rolled off him along with the scent of salt and man. “We should probably get a couple of things straight,” he murmured.
The spit dried up in her mouth. This close, she could see the triad of colors that made up his odd eyes. She couldn’t speak, so she didn’t try.
“You’re coming with me, your brother will do as I say, and so will you. Don’t cross me, blue eyes.”
“I can’t go into Merc territory,” she finally managed to push out.
“You can and you will,” he countered, his breath minty on her face.
Everybody knew that there weren’t women in Merc territory. God. What would happen to her?
His chin lifted. “You won’t be harmed. Ever. Trust me.” With that, Greyson Storm, the most handsome and dangerous and quite possibly craziest man she’d ever met, tossed her over his shoulder and too quickly kidnapped her from her very nice and safe lab.
“If you are looking for a lot of action, a love story that will grab you by the throat, survivors who have each others back, hits of humor and a good bit of snappy dialogue then STORM GATHERING will be the book you need in your hands.” – Fresh Fiction